Sunday, February 21, 2010

I’m back! In more ways than one . . .

First, if anyone is still out there checking this blog for updates, thank you.

Where I've been
The demands of a new job and elected duties with the 43rd District Democrats forced me to curb my extra-curricular writing for bit. I’m happy to report though I’ve started to find a little more work/life balance. Something I’ve always failed at doing, but have now committed myself to finding.

During this time away from blogging, I’ve reflected a lot on what I want out of life. There’s nothing like a triple whammy to get the mind thinking. Last spring I was faltering professionally with a seemingly inevitable layoff, and personally in dealing my mother’s ailing health and the unexpected loss of my grandfather.

I pride myself on being a survivor with the ability to rise above when my world starts crumbling. This time things were different. The crumbling never gave way, and soon I found the fight within me being beaten to nothing more than a withering pulp on life support.

I had so much of my self-worth and identity tied to my job that the prospect of losing it made me feel like a complete failure. Combining that with the loss of one of my greatest beacons of support, my grandfather, and preparing myself for the possible loss of another with my mother, heartbreak had been redefined.

In the months leading up to my 30th birthday, I had settled into a pretty deep depression accompanied by a series of mini panic attacks. I was finding it harder and harder to get out of bed, much less out of my funk.

The only other time my emotional perseverance had been tested to this extreme was in the aftermath of 9/11. During a truth-telling reflection over beers with my best friend in Seattle, I examined this period of my life. I discovered there was one solid difference between then and now. I had running as a coping mechanism.

At the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I was well on my way toward accomplishing a lifelong dream of running in a marathon. Despite putting my marathon dreams on hold so I could focus on healing, I kept running. I pounded the pavement harder than ever, escaping all my anxiety and depression through a constant rush of natural endorphins.

My pace and endurance eventually started diminishing until I got to the point where I couldn’t even run a mile without becoming completely winded. Severe asthma had set in from breathing six to eight miles a day worth of horrid air at Ground Zero.

Protecting myself from the fierce blow, I shrugged off the loss of not being able to run by telling myself I was luckier than the thousands of others who didn't survive the attacks. I refocused my life and started putting all of my energy into my career. I thought it was a healthy obsession at the time, convincing myself that as long as I was on a path toward a great career nothing else mattered. I could fail at everything else, be it personal relationships or running, and I would still be a success.

When I found myself on the verge of being without a career, reality hit like a crushing wave stinging every inch within me. I had sacrificed time with my family and given up all my personal dreams for nothing.

That’s when my friend, who helped me make this discovery, reached out and gave me a gift that would change everything. She signed me up for a class with Beth Baker of Running Evolution. It was a smart and sneaky move. I couldn’t very well return the gift, and it forced me to not give up on myself at a time when I wanted to the most.

Where I'm going
My first time back on the pavement in almost eight years was terrifying. I felt overwhelmed by how much of myself I had let go, both emotionally and physically, when I was diagnosed with asthma. In facing that fear by putting my running shoes back on, I was able to start rebuilding the fight within me.

My confidence started combing back, and so did my energy for life. Before I knew it, I was filling out job applications like crazy and recommitting myself to making family and personal time a priority.

On the day of my 30th birthday, I started the new decade of my life on a high note, quite literally. I was on a plane flying to a work conference in Washington, D.C., for a dream job as a content strategist with a federal project. More importantly, I was basking in the glow of knowing this job was just the icing on the cake for rediscovering myself, my relationship with my family, and what I wanted out of life.

Jobs will come and go, but how I live this life is what will define me.  I can only hope that by the time I am reunited with my grandfather, my gravestone will read: dedicated public servant; loving wife, mother, and grandmother; accomplished marathoner and writer.

Miles ran: 1.5
Time: 19.5 minutes

(As a side note, I’m going to end every blog post with my miles ran and time for that day to keep myself committed to my goal of running in a marathon. I’ve shaved two minutes off my MPH average since starting to run again, but I still have a lot of work to do in building my lung capacity and endurance.)


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I think you are swell

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! I see you removed my comment. Racist. That's typical of a lefty. You can't call me a racist because I'm black, so you quickly delete my post because you have no ammunition. ANYWAY I was having a look at your blog...Do you ever use the words "in my opinion" or "my point of view is" or anything of that sort? You seem to profess on and on as if what you're saying is gospel, without ever exploring the possibility that you're outside the extents of your knowledge.